Improvement plan, production technology improvements and perspectives Ecuadorean shrimp farmers have incorporated several technological advances to improve shrimp growth and disease resistance, to optimize the use of water and aquafeeds, and to increase production levels and resource optimization.
Dr. Xavier Romero Martínez The shrimp production chain is one of high economic and social.
The shrimp production chain is one of high economic, social and environmental importance for Ecuador. The Ministry of Foreign Trade (MCE) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries (MAGAP) – and in coordination with the Ministry of the Environment (MAE) – drew up a competitive improvement plan (PMC) for the shrimp production chain, with the participation of the most relevant actors from the private and public sector.
The main opportunities identified and prioritized in the production shrimp chain address the low production of Asian competitors and the demand of China; the opening of new markets; the increase in the consumption of organic foods; and the demand for nauplii and broodstock.
An additional focus is the potential support of the state, given the interest of public entities in the chain, not only because of their current economic and social weight, but also because of the possibilities of greater contributions in terms of trade balance, contribution to the economically active population (PEA) and activation of local economic dynamics.
On the other hand, weaknesses were identified and corresponding corrective actions were proposed, namely: the vulnerability of markets; an inadequate legal framework, with excessive legal procedures for formal actors and deficient regulation for intermediaries; the lack of security against criminal events; poor access to financing for production and exports; low level of research and innovation, especially at the level of medium and small producers; and insufficient road and electrical infrastructure.
This information has served as the basis for the implementation of actions for the benefit of the industry. Currently, a plan is underway to bring power to about 100,000 hectares of shrimp farms, which will allow a change in the use of energy and the use of new technologies for the operation of the farms (surveillance systems, monitoring, feeding, aeration, etc.). The regulation that controls the activity was also reformed (Fishing Law Regulation), so that, among other changes, the term could be extended to shrimp concessions from 10 to 20 years, allowing investment in the sector.
In 2017, the Ministry of Aquaculture and Fisheries was created, an institution dedicated more specifically to aquaculture activities (previously regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture). Proposals are also being debated for a new Aquaculture and Fisheries Law that would better cover the current needs of the sector, as the current law is from 1974, when the shrimp industry still did not represent a main activity for the national economy.
Farming system technologies
The industry has incorporated technological advances to improve shrimp growth and resistance to pathogens, as well as to optimize the use of water and aquafeeds, increasing production levels per hectare and optimizing resources. There are some tools that Ecuador’s producers make use of, among which the most important are:
Raceways and nurseries
The use of raceways, concrete tanks or tanks covered with a geomembrane, as well as small, earthen nursery ponds has improved shrimp survival in farms and reduced the days of culture in the grow-out phase. Keeping animals in controlled systems – where better feeding is provided and physical-chemical parameters are controlled – has considerably improved final yields and has increased pond rotation, resulting in more annual yield per hectare without increasing stocking densities.